Past Wisdom For Present Success

In my Red Hot novel series, the middle school bully, Timmy Little, never seems to learn from his past mistakes and keeps finding himself facing the consequences of his bad decisions. In fact, he frequents the principal’s office so much there is a chair with his backside imprint on it.

Real life middle school is not too far removed from fiction. When I walk through the waiting area outside the offices of our assistant principals, there seem to be a few faces that frequent the area so much they should pay rent for the spots. Yes, we all make mistakes, but some people just seem to have a way of making them over and over again. Their derailed actions are like train tracks that just seem to follow the same path toward destruction each day.

In our middle school most of the classes have this thing called “re-accessing”. A student who doesn’t do well the first time on a quiz is offered an additional opportunity to correct his/her errors. On most quizzes the teacher is even able to see how much time was spent by the student answering the questions. If a student took two minutes to answer the ten questions and received a score of three out of ten, the instructor could see if the lesson of “slowing down” sunk home in the student’s den off common sense as the student re-accessed.

We either learn from our mistakes and we continue to commit them. Our past mis-steps are best used to teach us about striding with success in the present. Most students learn that, while a few can’t seem to escape the temptation of walking on the edge of the cliff that borders the office of handed-out consequences.

My daughter, an elementary school educator, was recently grieved by a tragedy that happened to one of her former students, now in his latter teen years. When she had him as a student she could see the possible troubles ahead in his future. He often made the wrong decision, but she gave him extra attention and encouraged him whenever the opportunity presented itself. After she had him as a student she would continue to greet him with smiles and hugs each day she saw him in school. When he went on to middle school she’d only see him about once a year, always giving him a hug and asking how he was doing. The other influences on his life began to take over more and more. Whether there were others who tried to steer him back in the right direction and encourage him on the right decisions, we will never know. The tragedy of his life, however, will always rumble in the sorrow of our daughter’s soul.

As an optimist I believe that deeply-entrenched tendencies always have the potential to be ironed out. Like the frozen ice of the rink scarred by the deep cuts of the skates, the Zamboni smoothes out the rough parts and returns the surface to an appealing shine. I believe the past can be used to navigate a present productive reality.

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